It doesn’t get more evocative than a classical English cream tea (and Rubenesque scones) in a postcard-perfect English country township.
Once the province of the antique world, the concept of provenance has firmly rooted itself in the culinary sphere. Perhaps by contrast to many in our generation, MoMo & Coco are generally ambivalent. However, if one was to trace back the origins of afternoon tea away from London’s posh hotels, there’s arguably no better place that encapsulates the simplicity and quaintness of the tradition than visiting a tea room in the English country side.
Located in the pretty idyllic Cotswolds region, Burford is a tiny township of no more than 1000 people. A main street cuts through (and comprises) Burford, lined on both sides by a jumble of thatched, gabled, Edwardian and Tudor bed-and-breakfasts, private residences, shopfronts and pub-restaurants.
On the higher end before the road descends into a valley through which a creek murmurs, there’s a tea room emblazoned with an emerald-on-tangerine-orange signpost. Potted geraniums add a splash of fire red colour to a white cottage frontage.
Established in 1890, the family-owned Huffkins Tea Rooms in Burford has a rustic country house interior, with a cosy furnace of a backroom featuring exposed timber seating and ceiling, and a more luxe front parlour furnished with bottle green banquettes and bistro chairs. Even in the almost frenetic ambience, service was exceptionally prompt and personalised.
As a bakery, Huffkins specialises in the quintessential English cakes and slices, and an array of continental pastries, available for dining-in or pret-a-porter. For MoMo & Coco, you cannot go past their sponges.
The dine-in menu allows one to schedule in breakfast, light lunches or afternoon tea. The separate menu for the latter tempts you with the option of a full-blown afternon tea affair, a simple cream tea for which Huffkins is most famous, as well as a listing of singular pastries, sundaes and cakes. MoMo & Coco selected the cream tea.
Matching the general informality of the tea room, the table setting was plain white, flanked by paper napkins. With a choice of tea or coffee that accompanies the cream tea, MoMo & Coco opted for the former. Although only one variety of tea was available, the rousing English Breakfast was loose leaf, strongly brewed, and promptly arrived with its individual teapot for each patron, a stainless steel tea strainer and a small dish of sugar cubes.
An adorably small three-tiered service held two monumentally plump scone beauties, with equally lavish “frothings” of thick clotted cream and blossoms of fragrant strawberry jam to swaddle and swathe them in.
Having had one too many dry flat scone in one too many lacklustre generic afternoon teas, MoMo & Coco have never been enamoured by these unnecessary carb-y morsels that in our opinion, will fill you up before you even reach the sweet irresistibles. Huffkin’s scones however, have changed our minds. Radiating goldness and served piping warm, they were wondrous creation of moistness and fluffyness, with just slight crumble. Devoured in no time.
Overall, Huffkins cream tea deserves its cult status. At half the price and at double the Rubenesque proportions as that found in the City, and additionally taken at a charmingly evocative country town setting, it’s a journey that must be made by every afternoon tea aficionado or puritan. Walk off that decadent clotted cream and sugar and carb excess by strolling Burford’s main street…or better yet, ignore excess, and indulge further for another cream tea by visiting the two other Huffkins Tea Rooms in nearby Stow-on-the-Wold and Witney.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Huffkins Bakery and Tea Rooms, 98 High Street, Burford OX18-4QF, Oxfordshire, England, UK.
- ☑ Budget: $ (£4.99pp).
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: High Tea.
- ☑ Must-eat: Available daily.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: It doesn’t get more evocative than a classical English cream tea (and Rubenesque scones) in a postcard-perfect English country township.